Why Johnny Depp and Amber Heard aren't in court this week and what's at stake when they return
Amid all the recent headlines about Johnny Depp and Amber Heard — for example: lost appendages and poop have been some
high low-lights — it's easy to lose sight of what their ongoing trial is even about.
The legal case, which has been streaming live on both Court TV and Law & Crime, has been a parade of sordid, disturbing details from their relationship, which ended in 2016 when Heard filed for divorce and obtained a domestic violence restraining order against Depp, accusing the actor of physically and verbally abusing her (allegations which Depp has denied).
Nearly a month following its April 12 kickoff — and with weeks to go (closing arguments are expected to happen on May 27) — here is a summary of the trial so far:
What is at stake in Johnny Depp's case against Amber Heard?
A significant amount of money. Depp is suing Heard for $50 million based on a 2018 op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post chronicling her experiences as a domestic abuse survivor. While Depp is never mentioned by name, his lawyers maintain that it was clear — based on how the timeline in Heard's article matched the timeline of the couple's relationship — who the piece was referring to and that the piece damaged Depp's career and reputation. Though his career already had taken hits by the time the op-ed was released, Depp testified that Disney dropped him from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise days after. Per his manager's testimony, that meant losing $22.5 million to reprise his role as Captain Jack Sparrow.
In response, the actress has also filed a $100 million countersuit. Her team alleges that she was defamed when Depp and his legal team called her allegations false (Depp's team referred to them as a "sexual violence hoax").
Why is the trial in Virginia?
It all comes down to Heard's 2018 op-ed: That article was published by the Washington Post, who houses the computer servers for its online edition in Fairfax, Virginia. Heard's team unsuccessfully attempted to have the case tried in California, where Heard and Depp live. Depp's lawyers believe Virginia's laws favor their case.
Why are they not in court this week?
The usual Monday through Thursday proceedings are on hold from May 9 through May 12 while Judge Penney S. Azcarate is attending to a previously-scheduled conference engagement. Depp and Heard will return to court on Monday, May 16.
What to expect when they return?
Depp had his time on the stand and the next step in Heard's testimony is a cross-examination by Depp's team. Based on separate statements made by their teams, there will be fireworks.
"As Mr. Depp's counsel correctly predicted in their opening statements last month, Ms. Heard did indeed deliver 'the performance of her life' in her direct examination," a spokesperson for Depp said in a statement, which concluded with: "The upcoming cross examination from Mr. Depp's team will be most telling, and will certainly highlight the many fallacies Ms. Heard has now attempted to pass off as fact throughout her convoluted testimony."